The two artists most likely met around 1895, and Steinlen twice illustrated Rictus’ works: the Soliloques du pauvre [Soliloquies of the poor] in 1902, and le Cœur populaire [Popular heart] in 1913. They stayed in contact through the Belgian collector Yvan Lamberty, although their paths diverged after the First World War: Steinlen, the famous artist, took it in his stride, but Rictus took offence. Rictus created a unique poetic language, using Parisian slang with its harsh tones to describe the daily life of vagrants, the deprived, and the downtrodden. In this portrait, he is depicted full face with very fine, almost emaciated features at the age of 51. This portrait was reproduced and published in an edition of le Cœur populaire by Eugène Rey in 1914.